Joe Biden is telling a whopper. According to the new administration, before 20 January, the Covid-19 pandemic was out of control and the threat of an even larger catastrophe was looming large. Biden’s narrative asserts that the White House’s “callously indifferent predecessor … ignored the virus, disparaged science, and did nothing to protect Americans.”
What averted tragedy, according to Biden, were the efforts of the Biden team, “with deference to science and carefully targeted economic relief.”
According to Gerald Baker in the WSJ, here’s what really happened:
- COVID cases peaked in the U.S. at the end of the first week of January and by the time Mr. Biden took office had already fallen by a third.
- The claim that the administration inherited no vaccine program at all, initially propagated through the ministrations of a kindly reporter, is so at odds with the evidence that even the most friendly newspapers were obliged to call it out.
So developed was the vaccination program already in place when Mr. Biden took office that it was close to achieving his supposedly ambitious goal of a million shots a day. Credit the pharmaceutical companies (institutions Democrats love to despise) and the incentives provided by a capitalist market (a system Democrats love to despise). But the Trump administration gets much credit too—for identifying the opportunity early, and crucially for committing public funds to minimize the risks for the drug makers.
So it is with the economic salvation Mr. Biden promises. Not only is the $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill a kind of fiction—its provisions have less to do with relief from Covid than with relief to Democratic constituencies. It is supernumerary, and perhaps dangerously so, to the economy’s needs.
If any credit is to be awarded for fiscal response it should go to the $3 trillion in support already enacted last year—passed by a Republican Senate and signed by President Trump.
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